analysisBy Salifu Usman
It is now open secret that indeed some persons wanted Stephen Keshi axed as Super Eagles coach and Keshi himself actually resigned even though Nigerians were made to by authorities concerned he didn't In this piece, Salifu Usman asks who lied to Nigerians.
A new twist was added to the controversy trailing Super Eagles head coach, Stephen Okechukwu Keshi's aborted resignation on Wednesday when president of the senate, Senator David Mark insisted that the coach sought to quit his job because of undoing interference of government and the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF).
This was after the minister of sports and Chairman National Sports Commission (NSC), Bolaji Abdullahi told the whole world Keshi never resigned nor did he in any way attempted to leave his job after guiding Nigeria to her third Africa Cup of Nations title in South Africa. Bolaji Abdullahi made Nigerians to believe was happy with the treatment meted on him and in fact had no problem with his employers, the NFF or the NSC which is the supervisory agency.
David Mark putting to rest the debate whether Keshi actually resigned or not told the Senate on Wednesday during the plenary session that Keshi indeed resigned from his post after Nigerian sports minister Bolaji Abdullahi informed him that they would appoint a foreign coach to lead the team to next year's World Cup and that Keshi should cooperate with him.
"I spoke to Stephen Keshi this morning (Tuesday) and he confirmed to me that he actually said he has resigned. He said the reason is because there is too much interference. Before the final match on Sunday there was a lot of pressure on him that he must acceptto work under a foreign technical adviser and he said he is opposed to it because he has got all that he needs in this country. That there are Nigerians who can work with him and he doesn't see the gain in bringing foreigners.
"I think once we allow him (Keshi) and give him the team to manage, we should give him the free hand to manage the team. Whatever way he goes to get the result that should not be our problem. Once we give him the task we should give him a free hand to accomplish the task and bring the result. The Sports Ministry or the administrators must give him a free hand to bring us the results that we want."
"We should prevail on him not to resign and also that the Sports Ministry or the administrators must give him the free hand to bring us the result that we want. People believe that we are great but we must show them that we can do it not by words but by actions."
The former national team coach of Togo and Mali on Monday, 24 hours after guiding Nigeria to its third Nations Cup title, told reporters he will step down, saying the federation officials had threatened to fire him just before the team's quarter-final clash against Ivory Coast. He reversed his decision one day later following pressure from concern Nigerians, specially football lovers and political big-wings.
During a special reception in honour of the victorious Super Eagles at the State Banquet Hall, State House, President Goodluck Jonathan had to put an end to the ploy by declaring his full support for Keshi. "You have my full support. I am here to help you achieve greater success. The 2014 World Cup qualification is the next agenda and you must not fail. Nigeria must qualify." The president said.
Not impressed with the Sports Minister who is alleged to have collected N220m for the Nations Cup even though the presence of the Commission was not felt in South Africa, the National Assembly has been urged to call the minister of sports and chairman National Sports Commission (NSC), Bolaji Abdullahi to order and to explain how he disbursed the N1.4billion Super Eagles' AFCON budget approved by the federal government.
Former chairman Gombe State football association, Ahmed Shuaibu Gara Gombe made the call while reviewing the Super Eagles performance at the just concluded AFCON 2013. Speaking on NTA's Newsline live programme on Tuesday in Abuja, Gara alleged that the team was starved of funds few days to the tournament as the N1.4b appropriated to NFF for Super Eagles preparation and AFCON campaign were withheld in the National Sports Commission (NSC) by the minister.
He said if not for doggedness and commitment of the Nigeria Football Federation in sourcing for alternative means to prepare the team, the Super Eagles campaign would have been a disaster.
He said out of the N1.4billion approved and released by the federal government only a paltry sum was given to the NFF which is responsible for the team wondering why the minister kept the money.
"We are aware that the NSC gave no support whatsoever to the Nigeria Football Federation when the team was preparing for the tournament because even the N1.4b approved by the government were not given to NFF as at when due. Some of us have to contribute in assisting NFF to prepare the team.
Even when the money was finally released, the minister still held the money and for what we don't know. It is NFF that own the team. The minister should be made to explain how he spent the N1.4b Super Eagles' AFCON budget. Questions must be asked on how he has been running Nigerian sports. Apart from football, all other sports are practically dead. Football is doing well because of the doggedness of those at the NFF." Gombe querried.